After transitioning out of the military, many veterans see working for the Federal government in one of the criminal justice fields as a way to keep serving their country. And it is true, with a law enforcement degree, career opportunities can include working for the:

  • CIA
  • National Park Service
  • FBI
  • NSA
  • DEA
  • ICE
  • US Marshall Service

And the beauty of Federal government service is your military time counts not only toward longevity, but in many cases qualifies you for Veteran’s Preference placing you higher on the hiring list. Prior military service can also mean more benefits like coming in at a higher salary and at a higher vacation level.

Law Enforcement Degrees

Most law enforcement jobs at this level require some sort of post-secondary education. At a minimum an associate’s degree is required, however having at least a bachelor’s degree is better; in most cases to be competitive for a supervisory or managerial position, a master’s degree is required.

Veterans can usually enter a law enforcement training program with credits transferred from military service. This reduces the time to a degree, conserves GI Bill entitlement and can get you working in the field quicker.

Associate Degree

Students at this degree level learn a basic understanding of the criminal justice system. Subjects such as criminal procedure, ethics, criminal law, report writing, crime scene investigation and research and policing are just some of the topics covered at this level. Most associate degree programs take two years to complete. Federal agencies require a bachelor’s degree or associate’s degree with a specified amount of law enforcement experience.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree takes law enforcement learning to the next level. Subjects covered in this degree program can include criminology, tactical communications, conflict resolution and professional responsibility, for example. Depending on the agency, a law enforcement job, may not only require a four-year degree, but also experience. For example, to be a Border Patrol Agent requires this degree and 36 months of qualified work experience to qualify for a GS-5 level job.

Master’s Degree

At the advanced degree level, federal job opportunities rapidly expand. Possible positions could be working at any of the above listed agencies, but at the management or supervisory level. Most programs are 18-month to two-year programs, however with many of them self-paced and online, working a job and going to school are a possibility. Covered topics can include analytical methods, forensic behavior analysis, terrorism and cybercrime.


Few will aspire to the doctorate level. People holding this degree usually go into teaching at the college level, research, or working in agency administrative, supervisory or managerial positions.

During this 3 to 4-year program, students will learn a variety of high level subjects, such as philosophy of law, justice and social control, advanced criminological theory, criminal justice ethics, administration and public policy, race and ethnicity.


The criminal justice field is an umbrella encompassing many different types of careers under it – over 48 total; law enforcement is just one. The job outlook in the law enforcement field is encouraging as it currently on pace with most other career industries. If you have a desire to continue serving your country after getting out of the military, law enforcement in Federal service is a great way to do it and could able you to put your military benefits to good use.


Related News

Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.